The Tour May Be Ending BUT the Party Is Just Beginning!

Edinburgh Travel Blog

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Locals and visitors packed George Street for the Monster Ceilidh
The darkness had already descended on us as we drove southbound away from the southern Highlands. I napped the rest of the journey back to Edinburgh awaking just in time as we crossed the Firth of Forth over the Forth Rail Bridge. Our Isle of Skye Tour with Rabbie's Trail Burners ended with us departing the mini coach on the Royal Mile. It was a great journey albeit short on the hillwalking. But I will just have to return to the Isle of Skye during a warmer season.

Mar and I made our way out of Old Town past the Hogmanay Carnival at Princes Street Gardens and into New Town and our accommodations at Bus Station Backpackers Hostel. We returned to a full-house! Our hostel room was overrun with guys from around the globe.
I'm gonna eat you said the monster insect!
Carl from London via Louisiana , Carl's life partner Shane also from London, Francisco from Recife, Brazil, and Yuki (I think that's his name...Mar do you remember?) from Japan!

I distinctly remember how welcoming and jovial Carl and Shane were when Mar and I trudged into the hostel living room. We chatted quite a bit warming up by sipping hot tea. They were so excited for the holiday festivities that they busted out their colorful kilts and faux furry sporrins at which Shane exclaimed "They (the sporrins) look like fuzzy vaginas!". We had a some good laughs!

After a brief repose, we had energy to participate in the Hogmanay festivities. Our band of hostel roomies sans Yuki headed out into the brisk Scottish night in the direction of George Street. On this evening the Monster Ceilidh was to take place. A ceilidh or ceili is a social event usually with songs, story-telling, music, and dancing.
The Loch Ness Monster...flies?
In Scottish Gaelic, the word ceilidh means visit or referring to an informal home gathering. The Night Afore Monster Ceilidh truly lived up to its definition and then some!

As we strolled down George Street, the crowd was infiltrated by monsters from European mythology/folklore. The hags, bug-like creatures, and fawns would get in the face of the unsuspecting passersby and scare them while overhead a huge dragon and long flying loch mosters would swoop down on the masses. The fawns were the freakiest to me because they wore spring loaded stilts so they would bounce around along the street. I am actually surprised that they didn't fall down because George Street was quite packed with Night Afore revelers.

As we walked further down George Street we eventually got to one of the stages where we caught the tail end of a group of dancers wearing kilts but breakdancing. I thought it was cool! I wish I could have video taped it but I am pretty short and could barely see the stage.
I think the curried chips and ketchup has got Shane going cuckoo!
We made our way to the main stage but it was way to crowded so we headed in the opposite direction. As we were making our way through the crowd, it was as if I wasn't even in Scotland because all I could hear blaring on the speakers was America country music...Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, and others. I traveled half-way around the world...where the hell were the bagpipes?

In huge event like this, of course there had to be concession stands and merchandise booths. So while Carl, Shane, and Francisco queued up for some snacks, Mar and I went looking around at all the merchandise booths. We were hoping to find the infamous beanie with St. Andrew's Cross aka the Saltire aka the flag of Scotland with the Hogmanay 2008 emblem...but to no avail. Apparently they were part of the goodie bag given to ticket holders for tomorrow's Concert in the Gardens. BOO!

When we met back up with Carl, Shane, and Francisco. Shane and Carl were stuffing their grills with curried chips and ketchup.
A golden fawn...I wonder what the feather is for?
..basically french fries doused with yellow curry sauce and ketchup. I am not a big fan of curry but I tried a fry...not something I would order but if I were starving I would eat it.

We saw all there was to see so we all decided to head back to the hostel. Along the way back down George Street we miraculously cross paths with none other than Miriam our former hostel roomie at Bayfield Backpackers on the Isle of Skye...can you believe it?!?! Our chance meeting was cut short as she and her friends were off to participate in the Night Afore revelry while we somehow lost Francisco in the maddening crowd. We waited around for him a bit but eventually we left because we figured he knew where our hostel was and he has a key. 

Back at the hostel, I had another cup of tea before hitting the sack...well it was more like tossing and turning and hoping I don't wake up my other roommies and praying I don't roll off of the top bunk! I HATE THE TOP BUNK!!!




Get this year's Edinburgh's Hogmanay off to a sizzling start at the Torchlight Procession.
Francisco, Shane, and I enjoying the Monster Ceilidh
It begins at Parliament Square on the Royal Mile. Follow the Lerwick Up Helly Aa Vikings and the Clann, join thousands of others and create a spectacular river of fire through the city. Wind your way down the Mound, along Princes Street and up Calton Hill. Once at the top of Calton Hill, things really heat up with the ceremonial burning of the Viking long-ship as well as this year's wicker and willow effigy.



Spectacular street theatre, music, and dancin' in the world's biggest ceilidh EVER on George Street.

Main Ceilidh Stage - Ashley MacIssac and Portobello Ceilidh Band leading Strip The Willow

The Leilidh-oke Stage - American Linedancing with the High Country Ramblers and Leilidh-Oke  with Karen Dunbar

The All-Dancin' Stage - Dannsa, Moving  in Circles, Jive UK Champions, and The Inverness Tattoo Highland Dancers

The Auchenshoogle Mad Village Dance in the Assembly Rooms - Jimi Shandrix Experience and  Hugh MacDiarmid's Haircut

Osadia - The Hairdressers

From the Mound to Outside the Assembly Halls - Massed Pipes and Drums and The MOD

The Blas Blast Stage - Highlights from the Blas International Music Festival

Tipi Tales - Scottish storytelling for kids

The Monster Mash - Monsters from all over the place come to the home of Hogmanay at the invitation of Nessie.
More bugs monsters
Monsters performed by Close Act, Plasticiens Volants, Graall, Bouldegom, Zizanie, Los Kaos, Area51, and Satyrs.



Classical music and choral singing in the serene setting of St. Giles' Cathedral featuring Cantatas I and III from Bach's Christmas Oratorio sung by the cathedral choir and Mozart's Exsultate Jubilate sung by Kate Valentine


Teannaich and The Belle Star Band


Blaze In The Bothy and John Cowan's Lairds of Dixieland


Three stages, two giant screens and one great big party.

The Waverley Stage - King Creosote, Trans-Global Underground, and Figure 5

The Scott Monument Stage - Kissmet, Go Lem System, and Red Hot Chilli Pipers

The Mound Stage - TM Hands, Peter Hook DJ Set, and The Great Calverto


A funky outdoor ceilidh in East Princes Street Gardens - as Scottish as it gets.
Bugs are in town for Hogmanay too!

Mound Square Stage - Mark Saul, Bella MacNab's Ceilidh Band, Salsa Celtica

Ceilidh Dance Floor - The Occasionals and Sandy Brechin Band


Music and fireworks spectacular at the West Princes Street Gardens.

Kasabian, Calvin Harris, and Idlewild



Edinburgh's One O'clock Gun is the starting signal for a gentle mile run on New Year's Day. Beginning at the Castle, runners head down the Royal Mile, past Holyrood Palace and on to the finish in Holyrood Park.


A demanding swim-cycle-run event set in Holyrood Park.
Reminds me of the Coneheads
It is a fun race for first-timers in one of the most beautiful urban settings as well as a competitive test of winter fitness for experienced athletes. Swim 400 meters, cycle 11 miles, and run 3.5 miles.


A run-bike-run event set in Holyrood Park, for seriously energetic kids aged 8-15 yrs. Run 600 meters, cycle 2 miles, and run another 600 meters.


Teams of Alaskan Malamutte, Samoyed, and Siberian Huskies pull three-wheeled rigs around Holyrood Park.


Celebrate the New Year by taking part in the 22nd Loony Dook, the annual splash in the River Forth in the shadow of the Forth Rail Bridge.
Mar with our roomies Francisco, from Recife, Brazil and Shane from London.
Join in the grand parade which starts at The Moorings and is led by our pipers through Queensferry's High Street. If you're still daft enough, dook under the gaze of the iconic bridges. After, return to The Moorings for hot soup and a hot toddy.


Hogmanay Carnival and Hogmanay Jazz Festival
TRE69 says:
RJ...or for the Highland Games!
Posted on: Mar 29, 2010
RJ82 says:
we have to go to the edunburgh music festival!
Posted on: Mar 29, 2010
vances says:
Yeah, I was a bit disappointed by the fascination with country music in Edinburgh too!
Posted on: Mar 16, 2010
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Locals and visitors packed George …
Locals and visitors packed George…
Im gonna eat you said the monster…
I'm gonna eat you said the monste…
The Loch Ness Monster...flies?
The Loch Ness Monster...flies?
I think the curried chips and ketc…
I think the curried chips and ket…
A golden fawn...I wonder what the …
A golden fawn...I wonder what the…
Francisco, Shane, and I enjoying t…
Francisco, Shane, and I enjoying …
More bugs monsters
More bugs monsters
Bugs are in town for Hogmanay too!
Bugs are in town for Hogmanay too!
Reminds me of the Coneheads
Reminds me of the Coneheads
Mar with our roomies Francisco, fr…
Mar with our roomies Francisco, f…
Carl and Shane, our hostel roomies
Carl and Shane, our hostel roomies
These monsters look like emaciated…
These monsters look like emaciate…
Hag-like creatures roaming the cro…
Hag-like creatures roaming the cr…
Now whats a ceilidh without bagpi…
Now what's a ceilidh without bagp…
I wonder how heavy this costume wa…
I wonder how heavy this costume w…
The masses at the Monster Ceilidh
The masses at the Monster Ceilidh
It must be uncomfortable to be wal…
It must be uncomfortable to be wa…
Scotland does a Mar good!
Scotland does a Mar good!
Buggy backsides
Buggy backsides
No wonder I didnt see Nessie at t…
No wonder I didn't see Nessie at …
Clogging to hip hop
Clogging to hip hop
A dragon flying above the crowd
A dragon flying above the crowd
George Street was packed to the gi…
George Street was packed to the g…
Seems like the dragons wings are …
Seems like the dragon's wings are…
The Monster Ceilidh
The Monster Ceilidh
I am surprised my face didnt perm…
I am surprised my face didn't per…
Away from the maddening crowd on G…
Away from the maddening crowd on …
Check out Nessies teeth
Check out Nessie's teeth
Attack of the Giant Red Ants
Attack of the Giant Red Ants
Lots of people out and about
Lots of people out and about
photo by: vances